Most Winslow citizens may grudge recycling, but City vows to progress

After the Winslow City Council hosted a series of public forums on recycling, it became apparent that while many applauded the effort, many also spited it. Council listened to a report on the costs, benefits and drawbacks to three recycling alternatives and made a decision that would not upset those resistant to change, while looking into options that could take recycling to a whole new level.

In a survey conducted by the City, included in their monthly bills to residents, it was reported that 52 people said they would like curbside recycling, 167 said they do not want it, and 12 were not sure yet.

The first option, Alternative A, was for a monthly trash service charge that would rise $4.32 per month for Waste Management to give everyone a recycling bin and then swap-out one trash pick-up for a recycling pick-up each week.

During the public forums, some residents said their families fill trash bins to overflow twice a week and that if they were forced to lose the twice-a-week trash pick-up in exchange for one trash and one recycling, they would still not comply because they claim to hate it.

The most common argument against the curbside recycling was that they do not want their trash costs to increase whatsoever and that navigating one trash bin and one recycling bin would be too difficult and complicated.

"I'm disappointed that the citizens of Winslow are not in favor of curbside recycling," said Councilwoman Sue Bumpus. "I understand there are many reasons that many are not in favor of it and much of that has to do with the elderly population who do not want an extra container."

Later City Administrator Jim Ferguson concurred with Bumpus' statement; however, he said that the timing of such issues is important, and that when looking at the community, they need to consider the residents' interests.

City Utility Director Allen Rosenbaum presented two other recycling alternatives to the Council that would be much more amiable to residents.

Council decided to purchase two more recycling containers for over $40,000, which will then be hauled into Flagstaff ‹ as is currently being done. This new directive would also hire another city employee at over $40,000 a year. This would be to handle the increase flow of recycling as the city grows and people begin to support it.

"A benefit to this is that with this new employee, we will be able to open the transfer station for another day, which will help with the clean-up efforts going on around town," Rosenbaum said.

The total increase in cost will be $1.35 per month if the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality awards the City a grant, which the City Grant Writer Jim Richmond said they could have a good chance at receiving.

According to the City budget report, the cost of trash service actually dropped by $1.89 in the year 2000.

Councilwoman Bumpus said that there should still be better incentives coming from the state of Arizona to place deposit fees on cans and bottles. A program like that would increase peoples' interest in recycling because people could exchange what typically become trash and turn it in for money.

Mayor Allan Affeldt said he has spoken with the warden of the prison in Winslow and that she has expressed interest in pursuing the development of establishing a facility at the prison to sort recyclable material.

If such a program were implemented, Winslow would not have to pay the costs of trucking heavy recyclables into Flagstaff and then turning over the material to a for-profit company.

Rosenbaum said this would be an idea worth pursuing and that prison enterprises are not only good programs, but they are favored by governments.

Ferguson said this option for beginning a prison program for sorting recyclables could be explored while the City moves to begin the agreed upon recycling policy of purchasing two more containers and hiring another employee.

"I don't want to downplay the educational program that the City could get money for because that will get us back to the point where some day we will have a populace that understands recycling and will be more accepting of it," he said.

Councilwoman Stephanie Lugo said that the Winslow elementary schools are already promoting recycling education programs that are very popular with the kids.

Councilman Harold Soehner also suggested pockets of neighborhoods come together to pool their recyclables and volunteer to drop them off at the community recycling locations.

With next year's League of Arizona Cities and Towns gathering expected to focus on "sustainability," than recycling or offering incentives to recycle, could be a hot topic among city leaders throughout the state.

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